Gutter Cleaning Tips & Tricks
When it comes to Gutter Cleaning, there are so many different ways to achieve a clean gutter. There is a long list of factors that will determine the best method to use and being able to identify this method quickly and then execute efficiently will help you minimize down time and maximize your profits. In this article we will break down several scenarios that you may encounter and give you some tips & tricks that you can use to make sure every gutter cleaning job you or your crew performs will have the exact same outcome with the least amount of effort. Plus, we will identify an easy way to add extra value for your customer while earning extra money on each job. Let's jump right into it.
First off, the 2 biggest factors that will determine the best way to clean gutters will be the current or recent weather conditions and the climate that you live in. If the area that you live in is typically dry then most likely you will not have large trees, and gutter cleaning may be as easy as leaf blowing but if you live in an area that is usually wet then there is a good chance that there will be dense vegetation and the gutters will usually be full of wet debris and leaf blowing will not work quite as well, especially if the house or building you are working on has lots of windows and a well landscaped yard. There are several other factors and methods that we will break down below.
Methods: These are the 4 most common methods
Gutter Tool, Gutter Bucket, Micro Fibre Rag & Gutter Scoop - Pushing/pulling debris then scooping it up with a scoop. Usually performed while walking on the roof or while on a ladder working in line with the gutter. The micro fibre cloth goes into the gutter and you can push or pull it which will leave a clean gutter behind it. Sometimes we will add 4 or 5 rags and call it a "Train" of rags.
Gutter Vacuum - The use of a vacuum to suck out all of the debris. You can attach poles to reach up and avoid climbing on the roof or using ladders.
Leaf Blower - Using a leaf blower to blow out all of the debris. This is usually done while walking on the roof, however there are extensions that you can get that reach up and avoid climbing on the roof or using ladders.
Pressure Washer - The art of simply pressure washing out all of the debris from inside of the gutter. Again, there are extensions that you can get that reach up and avoid climbing on the roof or using ladders.
Weather conditions and climate play a huge part in determining the best method to choose. These conditions can change several times in one day and can even change from job to job despite the weather being consistent throughout the day. Let's pretend you have 3 gutter cleaning jobs lined up for the day. The weather at 8am is overcast but it has rained 2 of the last 3 days. The forecast for the day shows that it should be sunny and fairly warm starting around 11am.
Job 1 (8am) - You show up to the house, unstrap your ladders, place your stand-offs against the roof at the front of the house and climb up the ladder to have a look at the inside of the gutters. There is a fair amount of wet & muddy debris plus the downspouts are completely plugged at the filter inside of the gutter. While standing on the ladder you look down and notice that the landscaping at the front of the house is beautiful. Not one weed or anything out of place. You think to yourself "They either hire someone to look after it or spend many hours themselves taking care of their front yard." You walk around the back and notice that the back yard is very tidy as well. Then you see the neighbours house are super close together and they have a well looked after landscape as well. Well, how do you decide how you are going to clean the gutters? We feel like you have about 4 options and often you will use more than 1 method on a single location.
Do you pressure wash the gutters out? Well this method will make a mess on the siding, windows and will leave mud and debris in the landscaping and all other sides of the house. Also, from people driving by you will look unprofessional and someone might even think that you are pressure washing the roof.
Do you leaf blow out the gutters? Again, as listed above you will make a mess and even the neighbours will be upset with you. Plus, you will need to get out the pressure washer and a rake to clean up the mess.
Do you use a gutter vacuum? Most likely the gutter vac will plug up because of the wet debris. Without a camera how will you know that you got all the wet debris out? Gutter vacs time and time again have proven to have a very hard time getting all of the debris out of the gutter. Also, keep in mind that the heavy, wet and muddy debris will also need to work the motors fairly hard which will most likely trip the customers breaker so to avoid this you will need to use a generator. In order to get the vac around the back of the house you will need to run about 200 feet of heavy duty extension cord which is bulky and the initial investment on the cord is expensive. We have tried to make gutter vacs work over the years but our opinion and several others is that they are just a complete waste of time.
We feel that in this circumstance the Gutter Tool, Gutter Bucket, Micro Fibre Rag & Gutter Scoop is the very best method to use because it will not allow debris to make any type of mess on the house or surrounding landscape. After the cleaning is done you can use a pressure washer to flush out the gutters and downspouts if you choose.
Job 2 (11am) - You show up to the house, unstrap your ladders, place your stand-offs against the roof at the front of the house and climb up the ladder to have a look at the inside of the gutters. There is a fair amount of wet & muddy debris plus the downspouts are completely plugged at the filter inside of the gutter. While standing on the ladder you look down and notice that the landscaping is completely overgrown, there are no neighbours as you are out in the country plus you are scheduled to do a full house wash, window cleaning and concrete cleaning as well.
Do you leaf blow out the gutters? This method works best when the debris is dry.
Do you use a gutter vacuum? Useless and a waste of time in this circumstance.
Do you use a Gutter Tool, Gutter Bucket, Micro Fibre Rag & Gutter Scoop? You could still use this method if you choose for a few reasons:
- If you don't want your clients to have the image of stuff flying all over the place then this will be the right choice over pressure washing.
- Also, if you have a strict policy of no high pressure allowed above the gutter line.
We feel that in this circumstance that pressure washing the gutters out will be the very best method to use since you will be cleaning all the concrete, house plus windows after anyways. Since there are no neighbours to worry about and the landscaping is full of pine needles and leaves already, it wont stand out that you made a bit of a mess. We still encourage you to clean up as best as possible after wards and leave the property as good or better than when you first arrived.
Job 3 (2pm) - You show up to the house, unstrap your ladders, place your stand-offs against the roof at the front of the house and climb up the ladder to have a look at the inside of the gutters. The gutters are completely full of extremely dry leaves. The rain must have missed this area of town completely. You run your hand inside the gutter to see if it is wet or muddy underneath the fresh leaves but it's completely dry. While standing on the ladder you look down and notice that the landscaping at the front of the house is pretty minimal. So you go up on the roof and do a complete roof blow down and blow out all the gutters. Once all the debris is on the ground you leaf blow everything into a pile, rake it up, bag it and take it away with you. Even if the neighbours are close and have nice landscaping its fine because you are able to clean up really well since the debris is super dry.
With all these examples the one method that seems to be useless is the gutter vacuum. The only time this method is useful is when you are terrified of working on roofs or there is that one spot that is nearly impossible to reach.
Now to make you gutter cleaning jobs a little more profitable and also solve a common problem for your customer. We highly recommend offering Gutter Baskets (sometimes referred to as Gutter Strainers) as a way to add extra value to each job. By installing a Gutter Basket after a gutter or roof clean you will help ensure that the downspout filter stays free of debris and allows water to flow through the basket. Follow this link to watch our Youtube video where we go into detail of how to instal and use properly. Click Here...
By solving this problem for your customer you will establish a level of trust which will lead to more work for the other services that you offer. On top of that you will greatly cut down the amount of call backs that you receive due to the fact that the gutters flow properly. If you do get a call back you can easily check the job to see if they chose to install the baskets and if not you can tell them that you have the perfect solution for them. We even have Octagon Gutter Baskets that work well in trough gutters and on flat roofs.
Each circumstance is a bit different and we feel that it is a great idea to be ready for any situation that you come across. We highly recommend purchasing:
- The Gutter Tool
- The Gutter Scoop
- Gutter Baskets (sometimes referred to as Gutter Strainers)
- Octagon Gutter Baskets
- Roof Brush
- The Gutter Bucket
- Leaf Blower
- Micro Fibre Rags
- Pressure Washer with a 0040 tip